My Photo

About Me

« Breakout Churches // The Church Version of Good to Great? | Main | Characteristics of Effective Church Planters »

October 05, 2005


Ryan Wentzel

Thanks for the link to Packer's article.


I'm sure that I'm not to first to notice that boilerplate evangelical Protestant hooey always sounds and reads better when spoken or written by a propah Englishman. Charming, simply charming, but still hooey.

Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

Packer "unpack"-ed thusly:

"My hope is that in this new century the churchliness of evangelicalism will become evident."

In other words, evangelical churchliness is not evident.

"As my analysis shows, the difficulty here is more practical than theoretical."

In theory, evangelical churchliness MAY exist, but there is no evidence.

"Evangelical ecclesiology is not stunted, but evangelical churchliness as a mindset and an ethos is, and without rethinking and adjustment this will continue, so that the credibility of the evangelical claim to mainstream status as church will remain suspect and perhaps be forfeit."

To quote Forest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does." Even an evangelical Protestant might garner this principle and say, "Church is as church does," otherwise its just a paper-church, or a church of the imagination.

So, thus far Packer has unpacked:

1) There is no evidence of evangelical churchliness.

2) The Church-ly "mindset" within evangelical Protestantism is (to put it charitably) "stunted."

3) Church-ly "ethos": likewise "stunted."

"Will the evangelical church gain credibility through change at these key points?"

At this point, I might offer: "Mr. Packer, you can't get any LOWER church-wise by being not-evident, theoretical-yet-not practical, with a stunted ethos and mindset, so the only direction to go is upwards!

"Or will it continue partly at least to deny its name? We wait to see."

Why wait? From the days of the Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chapter 16 verse 18 to the present time, the Church has existed. It is only those outside of the Church who feel (driven by more of a "sour grapes" ethos, rather than any churchly one) the need to reinvent THEMSELVES as the Church.

"History is not a creed or a catechism, it gives lessons rather than rules; still no one can mistake its general teaching in this matter, whether he accept it or stumble at it. Bold outlines and broad masses of colour rise out of the records of the past. They may be dim, they may be incomplete; but they are definite. And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this.

And Protestantism has ever felt it so...

This is shown in the determination already referred to of dispensing with historical Christianity altogether, and of forming a Christianity from the Bible alone: men never would have put it aside, unless they had despaired of it." (John Henry Cardinal Newman)

Some instead of despairing, play dress up and "let's pretend", all cute stuff but quite dangerous when these hooey-games serve to keep one out of the real Church.

Joe (formerly a church-poseur evangelical, now a baby in the Orthodox Church)

Kevin Cawley

Joe, I'm not sure if this is a "drive-by" comment, but in the case that it's not, a few questions in response to your comment:

I'm curious to know why you didn't include "bitter" in your self-description-- or were we all simply supposed to understand that?

The biggest problem that the church faces in the world-- not just within evangelical enclaves-- is catholicity. The way I understand catholicity (limited as my non-demoniminational, evangelical understanding may be), it necessarily implies ecumenism.

Do you perceive the same problem globally? And, if so, how does a comment like this foster the ecumenical dialogue? Moreover, are all ecclesial problems solved if every evangelical joins the Eastern church?

Finally, you say,

It is only those outside of the Church who feel (driven by more of a "sour grapes" ethos, rather than any churchly one) the need to reinvent THEMSELVES as the Church.

I may have indeed misread you, but I don't detect sour grapes in Packer's words-- though I do detect them in yours...

The comments to this entry are closed.